Advaitic philosophy and the concept of personal God

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Wed Aug 7 10:03:52 CDT 1996

On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, Ken Stuart wrote:

> Hello,
> On Mon, 5 Aug 1996 17:58:37 -0230, Gummuluru Murthy
> <gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA> wrote:
> >          Now,  all the Universe is a creation of mAya. Also, jeevAtma, the
> >          soul inside us, and the Saguna Brahman, the personal God are also
> >          creation of mAya.
> Can you provide me with a scriptural reference (or a statement of
> Shankara or Ramana Maharshi) that says that Saguna Brahman is a
> creation of maya?

I do not have any scriptural reference. Scriptures (vedas/upanishats) have
not stated these concepts in a categorical sense. They are open to
interpretation and works by Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja etc add more
definiteness to the sayings of the scriptures. I think the concept of
Saguna Brahman is foreign to (at least early) Advaitic philosophy.
Anand Hudli and Sankar Jayanarayanan explained this better in their
responses to the same thread. I think we should look for a reference
to the concept of Saguna Brahman itself (when it first appeared) in
Advaitic philosophy rather than where it is stated that it is a
perception due to maya.

Modern textbooks on Advaitic philosophy treat Saguna Brahman as a
perception of the human mind [e.g. Advaitic Vedanta by M.K.V. Iyer;
Brahman, a comparative study of the philosophies of Sankara and
Ramanuja by G. Sundara Ramaiah; Man in search of immortality by

I think the concept (Saguna Brahman is a perception by the human mind
due to maya) is consistent.  The only reality is Nirguna Brahman, that
formless entity.  Saguna Brahman is Nirguna Brahman + the various
upadhis added on due to maya. Hence Saguna Brahman is a perception due to
maya.  Take away the upadhis, Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman are
one and the same.

> My understanding is that Brahman is not created, whether Nirguna or
> Saguna, and that this is the special characteristic of "personal God",
> that it is the appearance of Brahman within maya.
> But if authorities say otherwise, I'd be interested to read it.
> > But in the ultimate Reality, there is no creation.
> My understanding here is that there is creation, but it is illusory.
> To use the famous example, if one sees a snake, but upon
> investigation, one discovers only a coil of rope, the appearance of
> the snake did exist  - as an appearance, but not as a reality.
> In this latter point, I think the difference may just be semantics.

Yes, I think it is a question of semantics.  If it is illusory, my view
is, it does not exist.  In the snake/rope example, snake does not exist,
except in the mind.

> Namaskar,
> Ken
> kstuart at
> "The ego arises from the mistaken notion that the light of consciousness
> reflected in the intellect and coloured by objectively perceived phenomena
> is the true nature of the Self.  Thus, the personal ego falsely identifies
> the Self with that which is not the Self and vice versa." - Mark Dyczkowski

Gummuluru Murthy
Adau ante ca yan nAsti vartamAnepi tat tathA !
                                GaudapAda in Mandukya kArika
What did not exist at the beginning and what is not going to exist at the
 end is as good as non-existent even in the present.

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